I know many lay claim to the above title, no matter if in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, or lucky enough to have lived a century or more. We all think we grew up in the greatest time the world saw at the time we were growing up. So, like anyone else, I’m biased on this issue, but I think I have a pretty good argument in feeling this title was written for me, and those in my generation.
Born in 1953, I grew up in a generation where we had expectations set by our parents. There were expectations regarding respect for elders, teachers, neighbors, and property. There were expectations regarding behavior, at home, school, church, public businesses, restaurants, and everywhere else outside our home.
There were expectations regarding schoolwork, chores, telephone use, television, what movies we wanted to see, with participation in church and church groups, and community sports’ teams, clubs and other groups.
There were expectations for responsibilities taking care of our clothes, toys, games, school books, library books, and anything we used or borrowed, like dad’s tools, anything from our siblings, and/or friends.
If we failed to meet those expectations, there were consequences, also imposed by our parents. They were non-negotiable, non-changeable consequences, and sometimes, we didn’t even know what the punishment would be, as we “waited ’til our father gets home,” but we knew some consequence would be imposed.
In our day, placing blame on others wasn’t an option. We controlled our own actions. If we happened to be somewhere we weren’t supposed to, and there was some kind of trouble, even though we didn’t do anything ourselves, we were still guilty for making the decision to be there in the first place. No one made us be there, or do things, it was solely our decision. Also, excuses were not options for failure to meet expectations, or responsibilities. We were taught that we, ourselves, controlled our behavior, decisions made, our successes, and failures.
Our parents taught us that most anything we wanted, if it wasn’t near Christmas or our Birthday (and things we wanted around those days were never guaranteed), we had to earn through extra chores, or saving our own money until we had enough to buy them.
In conversations with many from my generation, we love talking about our family and growing up, and when we talk about our parents, it’s without animosity for how they raised us, and/or disciplined us. It’s more about home cooked family dinners, family traditions, family vacations, family picnics, family rides on Sundays, regular visits to families’ homes, family holidays, and we remember those things with fond memories and detailed stories.
Another reason I feel we grew up in the greatest generation is we got to live in a “pre-technology” world. We got to use our imaginations for play. We got to use all our fingers, not just our thumbs, to do things. There were no microwaves, video games, instant pots, cell phones, smart TVs or watches. We learned to tell time on devices with moving hands, not digital devices.
We didn’t have Madden Live Football, but we did have (I still have mine, and it still works) Electric Football games which took forever to play because after every play, you had to re-setup all eleven players on your side of the ball before turning the switch to run a play, then turn off the switch to set them up again, then repeating the process over and over.
We had an appreciation for life without iPads, tablets, laptops, VCRs, TiVo, screen-in-screen and smart TVs, satellite dishes, satellite radios, and Amazon Echoes and Dots featuring the ever popular, Alexa. We had channels 2, 4, and 7. There was no Hulu, Paramount, Pluto TV, Roku, and all the other streaming channels available to us on what my parents used to call the “Boob Tube.”
Some think we were “mistreated” by rules, regulations, expectations, and consequences we had to live by/face growing up, and many think we were cheated because, then, technology wasn’t what it is today. If you ask many from my generation, they’ll tell you we had the best of both worlds. We became better people because of restrictions, expectations, and consequences. We didn’t always like, or agree with, our parents growing up, but we know, now, they made us better people. We learned how to do more without bell and whistle devices that do things for us. We learned how to fix things without YouTube, and became more resourceful people because of this, but we have them now, and they do make life easier (except for those of us who need lots of help using them), but a little less gratifying.
All this (and because we had the best generation of music and dance, in my opinion, though I confess I love music and dance from generations before and after mine), allows me to repeat, “I grew up in the greatest generation.”